A 12-year-old girl walks into a social services office. She is nervous. Her father, divorced after inflicting domestic violence on her mother, is picking her up to spend the day together. This is how Julia De Paz’s short film Harta (translation ‘fed up’) begins. It won the audience award at Malaga Film Festival in 2022 and prizes for actors Anna Caponnetto and Julian Villagran.
A year earlier, De Paz’s debut feature Ama had played at the festival and Tamara Casellas won the best actress award for her role as a young mother trying to make ends meet.
Just as Ama began as a short, the Catalonia-born, Madrid-based filmmaker is now turning Harta into a feature, produced by Mayo Films and Avalon. Villagran will reprise his role from the short, and De Paz has taken the project to Les Arcs Film Festival’s Coproduction Village, the 2023 edition of Berlinale Talents and the Spanish Film Academy residency, with the aim of shooting in 2024.
In Harta, De Paz wants to explore male violence towards women. “My father is a doctor and my mother a social educator, and my goal is to develop a career where social work and film intersect,” she explains. “When I was little, I used to watch Charlie Chaplin movies — I remember the impact The Kid had on me.”
Ama had been born out of “endless conversations” with her mother, “talking motherhood, and the weight and feelings of guilt and regret linked to it [that is] not often discussed”, De Paz explains.
For Harta, her meticulous research has involved conversations with victims of violence, children, imprisoned abusers, social workers, lawyers and judges. She takes a similarly conscientious approach to filming, employing plenty of rehearsal time and allowing for improvisation. She points to films such as Lukas Dhont’s Close, Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank and Samuel Theis’s Softie as her inspiration.
De Paz is also busy writing a TV project and directing some episodes of The Long Shadows (Las Largas Sombras) for Disney+, written and also directed by Clara Roquet and starring Elena Anaya.
“Cinema is politics and it helps spotlight the stories that are often invisible in society,” says De Paz.
Contact: Laura Gonzalez, Calabuch